25-03-2020 Lockdown Day 2: We’re all in this together…

Today got off to a Triumphal Trophy start, managing to bag myself some paracetamol (WOO HOO!) after hitting the chemist’s at 08:30. They’d had a delivery last night, so this is the way forward: get in there asap after deliveries if your drug of choice is in short supply. 

Paracetamol has become a much-coveted commodity

It was predictably the same scenario as yesterday – locked shop & ring-the-bell requirement – but I liked the new addition of a plastic patio chair on the pavement, presumably to accommodate people who are infirm, elderly, or those who find themselves stuck there for some time, waiting.  So this box of goodies will last me a fortnight and are for the sole purpose of relieving arthritic pain, so I do hope I don’t need to use them for anything else in the meantime. I’ve already decided to start checking their availability in a week’s time so I’m not at risk of running out.  I had decided that if I failed again today, I would need to ask my GP for help with this, although this isn’t something I want to do, or should even need to. More ridiculous still is the fact that I’ve had to go out every day simply to try to find the damned things, which is hardly responsible behaviour, considering that I could be unknowingly spreading the virus in my wake.

More dreadful photos online of commuters crammed into trains this morning, but there seems to be considerably louder criticism and pressure to resolve this, or at the very least to make some effort to alleviate this awful situation for the selfless souls who are risking their health and possibly their lives simply by going to work.

Mild and sunny weather here again this morning and dog walking was quiet, but I am out quite early due to a newly acquired strange sleeping pattern.  We bumped into another regular dog walker, but today’s conversation was kind of hollered at one another from multiple metres apart – Boris would’ve been proud!  We also got accosted by a very handsome, errant chocolate Labrador who was complying with restrictions to some extent by exercising alone, but clearly couldn’t contain himself socially, blatantly breaking the ‘2 metres apart’ rule by hurling himself into the reservoir to swim with my dog. We won’t be grassing him up.

Over the past few days, I’ve felt quite energised (most unlike me), a kind of buzzing feeling which is a bit disturbing, so perhaps my subconscious has kicked into ‘survival radar’ mode. It’s most likely nervous energy due to high levels of uncertainty, regarding not only our futures, but just about everything else as well.  Driving home, I felt my head instantaneously turn as I went past a farm which sells eggs by the roadside – an honesty box affair, so no need for human interaction, and probably a better decision than buying them from E and risking passing germs to him.

National clarity about COVID-19 remains conspicuously absent, and I suspect I’m not alone in wondering if many of us may have already contracted it and subsequently recovered, and others may currently be carriers but unaware of it.  Information seems murky and media infographics remain misleading. However, what is certain thus far is that now, unless you develop severe symptoms and require hospitalisation, you will not meet the criteria for testing; consequently the statistics being released to the media and general public are actually worse then useless. For some time now we have realised that the actual number of cases is not only unknown, but severely underestimated. Our most recent advice is to stay at home, even if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms; you will not see a doctor, you will not call 111, and you only seek medical advice / attention / emergency care if / when you become seriously ill. So does anyone have any idea how many people are experiencing this right now behind closed doors? I think not.

I found some of the earlier infographics rather incredulous, so did a bit of maths. This was in the early days of confirmed COVID-19 cases and before any official related deaths had been recorded in the UK. The groups targeted for testing were individuals who had been abroad for various reasons, and my calculations revealed that the percentage of confirmed cases was actually 0.008% of those tested at the end of February, rising to almost 2% a week later when the virus got into its groove. Once UK deaths were recorded, this percentage remained steady based on the information available, and reputable medical sources have suggested that 99% of people who contract the virus should recover. According to the infographic above, the percentage of deaths vs cases is almost 5% – which, if the earlier medical statements above are correct, then the number of actual cases now is possibly three or four times higher than is implied here, around 30,000 – 40,000, most likely all those people behind closed doors, invisible in official statistics.

‘Not all lives are equal’ was an interesting quote I read in a recent article by John Humphries. The article was a bit of a grump about the foolishness of making assumptions about ‘the elderly’, an extremely diverse group of people with the age range spanning around four decades, and assuming they all share numerous similarities and should therefore be treated the same.  However, I found the statement interesting in itself and extremely relevant when applied to the nation as a whole – let’s face it, right now it’s basically a bit of a lottery for most of us. Or is it?

Today the media confirmed that Prince Charles has displayed ‘mild symptoms’ and tested positive.  Ok, I get that he’s the heir to the throne, blah blah, but other people of his age group displaying the same ‘mild symptoms’ would not be tested, they’d be sent away and told to not to call again until they were really ill.  I’m sure Charles will do just fine and make a full recovery – how could he not?  He’s in isolation in a royal mansion somewhere in rural Scotland with the access and finances to the best medical input and care in the world.  There’s a definite disconnect here, a real ‘us and them’ scenario, all lives are clearly not equal; I find this quite shameful. 

The ‘Girl Friday / Felicity Kendall’ head is firmly attached today – perhaps the endless problems of shops with raided shelves has triggered it, or maybe the ‘survival radar’ working overtime?  I sowed a load of seed today, more vegetables than usual, although I don’t know where I’ll plant them out if they grow; I have so little space but will maybe need to invest in a raised bed or ask E if I can use a space in his allotment?

‘Social distancing’, hmmmmm, I’m not sure it’s really working, Boris.  There’s a shared yard at the back of my house, an area where two terraced streets back onto one another, so it’s like a street but without traffic, and a dedicated space for wheelie bins and washing lines.  Usually, it’s really quiet and I seldom see a soul until the summer holidays, but these days?!  It’s really busy, noisy and feels like people are struggling with the idea of social isolation and enduring their own company – kids shrieking and flying about on their bikes, women clacking over washing lines, babies crying, neighbours sitting at the specified distance apart outside their back doors but hollering at one another in order to hear each other and be heard, motorbike enthusiasts congregating and talking engines, and the relentless chain-sawing that must’ve cut the equivalent to a small rainforest in the space of an afternoon.  In fact, I’m in closer proximity to more people now than ever before.  I thought I lived in a quiet area, a rural idyll of sorts, but actually it appears that’s not the case at all. We’re vacuum-packed into these tall, slim terraced streets, so when everyone’s at home it’s surprising how many of us there really are.  Social distancing? my arse…

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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